Type : Other Article
Sweety Mukherjee , S.K. Jha , Sanjit Maiti , Amandeep Ranjan , Saurabh Tiwari , K.S. Kadi
The application of ICTs has emerged as an important pillar of agriculture extension focusing on enhancement of agricultural development through improved information and communication processes. Despite impressive advancements in ICT tools, Indian farmers lack the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively use such tools to improve their farming practices. Therefore, even if our country continues to reach new heights in the ICT sector everyday, its influence on the farming community is still in jeopardy, and there remains considerable scope for expanding the use of ICT in agriculture. The present study was undertaken to identify extent of utilization of ICT tools and the constraints hindering their use by farmers of West Bengal. An agriculturally prosperous district (Purba Burdwan) and another backward district (Birbhum) were selected purposively for comparative analysis, constituting a randomly selected sample of 160 respondents. The study revealed that among the technical constraints perceived by the respondents, lack of region-specifi c information, poor internet connectivity and poorly developed ICT infrastructure were most significant. Majority of the respondents considered high cost of ICT tools, hiked internet charges and lack of subsidies on ICT tools to be the major economic constraints. Among the operational constraints, lack of skill in operating ICT tools and lack of awareness about ICTs were most important. The study concluded that organization of ICT-based training; arrangement of sensitization and awareness building programmes; establishment of Village Knowledge Centre and Internet café; localization and customization of appropriate content; strengthening ICT infrastructure and affordability of ICT tools can enhance their socio-economic development.
Keyword: ICT, Extent of utilization, Technical constraints, Economic constraints, Operational constraints.